Former Oceania Cruises passenger Toronto resident, Richard Silver, was aboard the Oceania Insignia a few years ago when the luxury cruise ship’s engine room caught fire.

Two contractors and one Oceania crewmember died in the fire while the cruise ship was docked at Port Castries, St. Lucia. Some passengers who left comments on social media criticized Oceania for the crew’s “confusion, lack of information and misinformation” following the deadly fire.

In a subsequent article, I mentioned observations from Mr. Silver that the passengers were herded through the ship during the fire and into a warehouse at the port where they remained without water for nine hours in high heat and without any information about the fire. Mr. Silver took photographs and video of the bedlam on the ship where elderly passengers were carried off of the ship by other passengers, as well as photographs of a passenger who fell into the water between the dock and ship.

After the ordeal, Mr. Silver eventually returned home to Canada without his luggage, exhausted. He explained to the Canadian press what he experienced. Several Toronto’s newspapers and news stations published Mr. Silver’s photographs and vivid account of the fire and Oceania poor handling of the aftermath.  These images belied Oceania’s press statement that “our top priority is ensuring all 656 guests return home as quickly and comfortably as possible.”

Cruise lines like Oceania don’t like bad press. So when Mr. Silver tried to book his next cruise with Oceania on the Sirena last August, he received a phone call from a cruise line representative. As explained by Toronto newspaper Global News, Mr. Silva said that “they told me ‘you’re banned for life.’ Why am I banned? What did I do?” (See video here).

Oceania reportedly returned Mr. Silva’s money but never answered his inquiries, leaving Silva to believe that he was punished for speaking to the media. Silver also claims that Norwegian Cruise Lines, the parent company of Oceania, and NCL’s subsidiary Regent Seven Seas Cruises, banned him from future cruises.

When the newspaper called Oceania for an explanation, Tim Rubacky, the head of public relations for Oceania Cruises, denied that the cruise line was punishing Mr. Silver but he refused to explain further and repeatedly said that he “can’t and won’t comment.”

Cruise lines which act petulantly like this do not limit their retribution to passengers. Crew members who speak to the media or post comments on social media are quickly terminated from their cruise ship jobs. Costa terminated a crew member who posted a video on Facebook when a violent storm broke hundreds of dishes on the Costa Fascinosa. There are many other examples.

Cruise lines rely on carefully crafted images of idyllic vacations at sea to sell tickets. But when passengers or crew members take their complaints to the press or social media, cruise lines often respond vindictively.

Like Vegas, what happens on cruise ships stays on the ships. A passenger or crew member who breaks this unwritten rule will find out that they are no longer welcome on the ship. Its seems that NCL, and its related brands like Oceania, will not hesitate to punish customers, who exercise their freedom to speak about what happens on the high seas, by blacklisting them from cruising in the future.     

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  • William Engel

    Not just cruise ships! Sunwing Vacatiuons banned me, but didn’t tell me after I raised a stink about their staff charging us an extra $200 to board our return flight in Honduras.

    The Sunning staff were clearly ‘stealing’ and they acknowledged the fact that they knew that the practice existed. I nearly pointed out they if they had no control over ‘who’ gets on the plane, they how could they possibly control ‘what’ gets on the plane.

    It turns out that I hit a nerve, and seeing how Honduras is an ALT RIGHT controlled country which is considered a major Cocaine trans shipment point, and that previous airlines (Blue Panarama, to note one) had been caught moving the white stuff.

    Corporations are exerting their control more and more!

  • tinikini

    Outstanding customer service…………NOT!!!! Own up to your mistakes, Oceania and move on. Customers appreciate honesty not some cheesy corporate excuse and being ban for life. Sounds pretty petty, what are they five years old??? Grow up and face the facts that shit happens and you have to deal with it as a business.

    Kinda makes you wonder what they would have done to him if he was caught posting to a live feed when the fire broke out. Would they have thrown him off the ship, left him in port or let him burn?? Would they have given him a refund??

  • Steven A.

    I think the cruiseline reserves the right to ban anyone just like any corporation or company and without any explanation. It is stipulated in the contract. Why would you want to go back to a cruiseline that you were not happy with? Would you still go on the poop cruise with Carnival if you experience that type of vacation?